The collision is about to occur. If you follow high school baseball, you can’t wait.
When the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Class 5A No. 1 team Colleyville Heritage and No. 9 Grapevine meet for what should be a battle for the District 8-5A championship next week, it will conjure up several story lines.
▪ Should they sweep, is this the year the Panthers break through and finally win that first state championship in baseball?
▪ Will Grapevine deliver two mighty blows to remind followers that the Mustangs are reigning state champions and intend to make it back-to-back?
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▪ If this series produces a split, will high school baseball fans just nod their heads and understand that probably what was meant to be?
▪ More importantly, these two storied baseball powers are reunited in the same district after being separated for the previous two years. Colleyville Heritage moved down to Class 5A this academic calendar.
We’ve been trying to get ready for this series since early March. It’s like a Major League series.
- Grapevine baseball coach Steve Hutcherson
The Panthers (26-1, 10-0) and Mustangs (19-7, 10-0), who long ago clinched playoff berths, have a little bit of work to do this week before the hype can really reach that zenith. Grapevine had a series with Fort Worth Eastern Hills. Colleyville Heritage played a series with Fort Worth Carter-Riverside.
Come through those series without blemish — each should — and they are destined to roll into the week undefeated. Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. meeting is at Grapevine. The April 28 meeting and regular season finale is 7:30 p.m. at Colleyville Heritage.
These teams have been preparing for this week well in advance. The two programs have had scouts watching them for the previous three weeks.
“We’ve played well but when the season started, I laid out a number of baseballs,” Colleyville Heritage coach Alan McDougal said. “All of the balls were identical. That makes these games the same. But there is an elevated emotion. Obviously, Grapevine is our aspiration. They have what all of us want — a state championship.”
While Colleyville Heritage has put together a nearly flawless season, the Mustangs took some early setbacks before head coach Steve Hutcherson’s team got back into the flow. Grapevine began the week winners of 10 consecutive games.
Each team has thrived on its deep pitching. Colleyville Heritage senior right-hander Alex Scherf continues to dominate at 8-0 with a 0.47 ERA. He should pitch Friday. The Tuesday starter will be between Isaiah Alvarenga, Michael Stanford or Cameron Ehringer. The Panthers have a 1.42 team earned-run average.
Grapevine’s team ERA is at 2.03, led by right-hander and Louisiana Tech bound Connor Neuman (1.42), while right-hander Max Gehler (2.42) has started to emerge as the No. 2 starter.
No one will deny that the caliber of baseball played in this area is exceptional. It always has been. The respect between the two teams programs has never wavered.
“We know a lot about them and they know a lot about us,” Hutcherson said. “We’ve been trying to get ready for this series since early March. It’s like a Major League series. There’s not going to be a lot that each can try that’s going to surprise the other. It’s going to be about who executes and handles the moment.”
Should each play to its ability, there’s a chance these two games won’t signal the only time they see each other. The next could be the Region I final in late May.
But first things first.